Photo Credit: John Sullivan

Willow Run has a deep history of innovation and was initially built by Henry Ford as an advanced aircraft manufacturing facility during World War II. It was redeveloped by General Motors in the 1950s as a powertrain plant that operated until 2010.

Riveting a center wing section for a B-24E (Liberator) bomber in the horizontal position at Ford’s big Willow Run plant.  National Archives and Records Administration, 196387.

Now, it will become the premiere national facility for mobility and advanced automotive testing and product development.

The center is uniquely positioned to accommodate the broad needs of industry and government with its capabilities to test vehicles, roads, infrastructure and communication systems, while providing room to grow and adapt as technology dictates. The site comes with a number of desirable features and structures already in place including double overpasses, a railroad crossing and a highway loop to test at sustained highway speeds. Testing can occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements help to create the perfect environment for testing and setting national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed. The center will also serve as a development facility that will allow companies to lease space for office and research use, garages and other amenities.

The American Center for Mobility will expand the region’s business incubation and acceleration capabilities while bringing great economic opportunity to southeast Michigan and the United States.

The reactivation of the Willow Run site reinforces Michigan’s global position as the automotive leader while creating new innovations that will drive the future of mobility.

American Center for Mobility CEO Testifies on Self-Driving Vehicles for U.S. Senate Committee

John Maddox discusses safety benefits of testing, deployment of automated vehicle technology.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 2017 —American Center for Mobility (ACM) President and CEO John Maddox appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C., to testify on self-driving vehicle technology.

The convening, titled “Paving the Way for Self-Driving Vehicles”, was held to explore the benefits of  driverless vehicles and the role state and federal agencies will have in the safe implementation of automated technology while continuing to encourage further advancements.

“It’s an honor to have been invited to speak before the Committee and to stress the importance of the work we are doing at the American Center for Mobility to improve safety and reduce accidents by testing, validating and providing the platform to begin the collaborative effort to accelerate the development of voluntary standards,” Maddox said.

Watch Peters’ Opening Remarks

Watch Maddox’s Opening Remarks

During his testimony Maddox shared his expert opinion on necessary changes needed to decrease traffic deaths related to human error, the economic benefits associated with deploying connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies, and the importance of voluntary standards in order to ensure the safe deployment of highly automated vehicles.

As one of 10 federally designated proving grounds for connected and automated vehicles, ACM is located on more than 500 acres at Willow Run in Ypsilanti Township. The purpose-built facility will provide public and private entities the ability to test and validate advanced automotive technologies, as well as expediting the creation of voluntary industry standards, workforce and public education.

“As the heart of the American auto industry, Michigan’s automakers, suppliers and engineers will solidify our nation’s position as the global leader in transportation innovation,” said Senator Gary Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “I was honored to have John share his expertise with the Senate Commerce Committee and describe the critical role the American Center for Mobility is playing to promote continued innovation and ensure the safe and rapid testing and deployment of this transformative technology that will save thousands of lives.”

Prior to joining ACM Maddox was responsible for the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) overseeing industrial partnerships, government interaction, legalities and strategy. This role, combined with his previous experience as the associate administrator for Vehicle Safety Research at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has provided Maddox with a deep understanding of automotive research and safety.

Testifying with Maddox were Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; Rob Csongor, vice president and general manager of Automotive Business for NVIDIA Corporation; and Colleen Sheehey-Church, national president for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

For more information about the American Center for Mobility, please visit:

The American Center for Mobility is part of the Planet M collaborative that represents Michigan’s unique infrastructure and leading role in transforming how people and goods are transported. Planet M members include public-private partnerships and collaborative programs with the common goal of positively contributing to the reinvention of the transportation industry. For more information, visit